Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Three one-twos flatter Mercedes’ performance, says Wolff

2019 F1 season

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the team’s three consecutive one-two finishes in the opening races have come despite the team not always having the quickest car.

However Wolff, who has consistently talked up the performance of rivals Ferrari, acknowledged that was not necessarily a “very popular” point of view.

He said his team only started to look competitive on the final day of pre-season testing.

“It didn’t look good,” said Wolff following Lewis Hamilton’s victory in China. “We weren’t where we expected to be in the first testing sessions.

“Then we came back with our race one aero package [at the second test] which we hoped would have a real impact on the car’s performance and it didn’t on the first two days. And on the third day we kind of found the right set-up direction and on the fourth day we were able to post a time that was encouraging but no more.

“Then obviously Melbourne came as a great surprise when everyone let their pants down that our performance was good enough. And then we got caught out. We came to Bahrain and we weren’t fast enough. It is very much a rear-limited track with the most aggressive asphalt in the calendar and Ferrari was the one that should have won the race in terms of pure car performance.

“So these things I think although we have scored three one-twos I’m saying again and maybe that’s not very popular but I think that this is not what we’re seeing in the picture. The Ferrari is very strong and we expect this fight for pole position and consequent race wins to continue.”

Wolff said Ferrari appeared to be closer to Mercedes’ pace on Friday in China. “I think we had good race pace on Friday but it wasn’t a completely dominant picture. It was solid, we had a tiny edge over Ferrari, but not what we’ve seen [in the race].

“I think the work we have done for the race has been good. The car is solid on the tyres and especially in Shanghai a different track to Bahrain, we were able to have the right package.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “Three one-twos flatter Mercedes’ performance, says Wolff”

  1. Their ontrack speed flatters Mercedes aswell.

    This just follows a trend, Mercedes get their act together from Friday to Sunday way better.

    Ferrari come strong and remain more or less there. Meanwhile Mercedes come in and struggle but then improve the quirks and dominate.

    Same old story and when it comes to speed, they are in another league. Their car seems to still do quite a lot of outwash.

    As much as we thought and believed Wolff, that Mercedes is the under dog this year, that is simply not the case. 3 1/2’s in 3 races. And it was not down to luck, quite consistently they are faster.

    The only weakness might be the power unit, are they behind Ferrari? Or do they just have more drag?

    1. I tend to agree. I am not sure Mercedes is always the fastest from the first practice buy it seems they use available data at best and might have more setup parameters than some others allowing them to really get the perfect setting for their car at each circuit.
      Then we can see some tracks where they have difficulties to find the right setup (Singapore until last year), but generally they look extremly good on analysis, development and setup.

      1. Marc Priestley in one of his vlogs, made the observation that one of the things affecting Ferrari is, their car worked straight out the box. On the first day of testing it was fast and reliable and because of that, there wasn’t really much problems for them to diagnose. Mercedes on the other hand had brought a car to the first test that wasn’t their final package to the first test. This allowed them to gather data, do systems check etc.

        Mercedes is all about analysing the data down to the most minute detail and the more they begin to understand their package, the better they get.

    2. Ferrari does not have more power than Mercedes, what Ferrari has is a car that has less drag, hence why they’re so fast on the straights.

      The ERS unit is limited to a max 160 BHP, so any extra power will have to come from the ICE and it’s widely regarded that Mercedes has everyone beat in that area. It’s all about setup and deployment, that’s why it’s being perceived that Ferrari has more power.

  2. Toto “Ferrari’s number 1 cheerleader” Wolff strikes again.

    1. Ugh, wrong Wolff to picture as a cheerleader, @geemac

  3. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    18th April 2019, 13:30

    If I could roll my eyes any harder they’d fall out of my head. Three 1-2’s in a row, two out three poles, and they’re still trying to play the underdog? I can’t see how after this start they won’t win both titles with considerable ease.

    1. That’s precisely the mindset these comments were aimed at. Mercedes have had some early season gifts in the first three raves. It’s a nice little head start in the championships. It’s not Merc completely dominating, though.

      At this point it’s still perfectly possible that Mercedes are going to need the head starts, if Ferrari develops the car better over the next few months.

      On balance, Mercedes seem to me to have an overall pace advantage so far, but not 3-0 worth. Which is basically what was said by Mercedes.

  4. Sush Meerkat
    18th April 2019, 13:34

    Toto likes to make out the minor issues merc have are somehow a lot worse than what is really going on, which is the opposite of an investor which he is?

    He will use any excuse to play down mercs chances,

    Saturday ‘well the moon is in the sign of libra which really upset a splinter in a mechanics finger over Singapore Airport and that’s why Lewis is basically fighting with the rear tyres’

  5. Flash-forward to November 2019.

    Toto Wolff: “It’s true, we had 20 one-twos, I know it’s hard to believe but we think every other F1 and F2 car is much faster than us, we’ve seen it from the GPS”.

    Lewis Hamilton: “I have 4895 points lead on the runner up, I’ve won the 6th, 7th and 8th titles in a single season but I think Vettel, Verstappen and most of all that guy Russel are faster than me”.

  6. ^^

    The guys above nailed it.

    The Mercedes Underdog Show continues. I don’t see it ending before they’ve won 50 titles either, being faster by 3 seconds a lap.

  7. The Merc PR department must be understaffed.

    Headline before race: ” merc afraid of superior ferrari pace”

    Headline after race: ” wow, we won, but really, ferrari threw it away.”

    I wonder what they will be saying after Baku?

    Abu dhabi?

    1. :D This yes. I guess somewhere it was decided in their PR department, that being dominant is bad, so they are trying to appear as underdogs. But it is failing badly, when they drive up the road to an easy victory.

  8. I’d say only one of Mercedes’ one-twos flattered – namely that in Bahrain. The other two were on merit.

  9. Mercedes’ three one-twos flatten earth, says Wolff

  10. LeClerc should have won a race that Merc got a 1-2 at. Arguably the second Ferrari driver shouldn’t have spun and ruined his own chances either.

    I think we’ll see Ferrari a lot more competitive at Baku. I’m predicting a LeClerc led 1-2 for Ferrari.

    1. Please do not, under any circumstances, ever call him “LeClerc” again, or I may feel compelled to use LeThal violence against you.

  11. At this rate, by the end of the season (when they have wrapped up the constructors championship with 4-5 races to spare):

    Toto: “Beating Williams flatter our performance”

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      18th April 2019, 16:50


      That was tight!

  12. *yawn*

    Everyone forgotten Bahrain then yes? Jeez you guys and your strawman arguments.

  13. Then obviously Melbourne came as a great surprise when everyone let their pants down that our performance was good enough

    Toto Wolff, talk up Ferrari as much as you want, I really don’t care, having sensibly fitted a F1 BS filter a long time ago (highly recommended incidentally), but please, please, stop with the ‘pants down’ trope right now. It was bad enough from Christian Horner, but it’s fast becoming a ‘thing’, so to speak, and here doesn’t even make any sense.

  14. Looks like everyone is suffering from selective amnesia re Ferari being quickest in Bahrain.

    Pacewise-2:1 to Merc.

  15. I love how everyone criticizes a man who has lead a formula 1 team to such success and he did so not by just coming out with the best car but thru very accurate development through the 17 and 18 seasons of especially. . I don’t believe anyone who has never been tasked with keeping 1000 plus people focused and motivated enough to win 5 consecutive WCC and 5 consecutive WDC should say that what he does is wrong. It’s obvious that his approach is working so I doubt he will change his management style. If he came out and said “oh yeah we got this , were better, bla bla bla im POSITIVE he would receive criticism for that as well . Humans are a fickle species especially when they are faceless .

    1. He has been selling the same story for years.

      And the track record literlly shows its a calculated lie.

      So calling bs is just that, not a problem with management style or achievements of the guy.

  16. He’s not entirely wrong, many commenters here forgetting how competitive Ferrari actually are and the fact that they should’ve won in Bahrain.

    But it is a bit “crying wolf” (no pun intended, but it works) because Wolff has been talking up the competition for years now.

    I’m sure they work hard to stay in front, but the same comments over and over and tiresome. Indicative of the current state of F1 though.

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